Curt’s Cannabis Corner: Connecticut Goes Green

Welcome to the next installment in the series of educational articles from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network. This collection is intended for cannabis and hemp industry professionals who wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry, volatile business environment, and detailed regulation of this newly legal herb. 

This week, readers learn about Connecticut, the most recent U.S. state to legalize adult-use cannabis for its residents who are 21 and older. Many aspects of the new law are unique or rare among states that have implemented adult-use cannabis legalization to date. State officials claim that they have developed and are about to implement “the best [cannabis] bill in the country.” 

Among many other notable accomplishments, the state’s progress-minded legislation opens the door to possible cannabis lounges down the road andget thisrequires some cities to create public marijuana consumption areas. Legalization in America is becoming truly surreal. Read on to learn more.







By Curt Robbins

On June 22, 2021, the state of Connecticut legalized adult-use cannabis via its new law SB 1201 to become the 19th U.S. state to do so (the 20th if one includes the District of Columbia). The mere fact that the state has made this leap of faith into the controversial waters of legal/regulated/taxed cannabis for its citizenry is obviously notable news (especially for those who work in the cannabis industry, the target audience of this text and video series). 

Said Governor Ned Lamont at the press conference that officially announced the new pot policy, “The states surrounding us already, or soon will, have legal adult-use markets. By allowing adults to possess cannabis [and] regulating its sale, we’re…effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities.” He added that he thinks the new law also is “keeping Connecticut economically competitive with [its] neighboring states.”

The new legislation is similar to many others in the nation, only with more relaxed limits on some of the numbers. Connecticut will permit 1.5 ounces of loose-leaf flower to be carried by a person and five ounces to be stored at their home or in their vehicle (as long as it is securely locked). The law even includes a provision for home cultivation (“home grow”).

Connecticut’s House Majority Leader, Jason Rojas, thinks the state’s new law is the “most comprehensive” and best in the nationand he may be right. “History will tell us if that’s true or not, but I feel confident in saying yes, right now, this is the best bill in the country and it’s going to move us in a direction of ensuring that we provide a well-regulated marketplace for adult-use cannabis for [those] who want to participate in that kind of activity.”

Some experts predict that the state could generate more than $725 million in annual sales by 2025 and collect tax revenue of $600 million during the first five years of operation. This would obviously infuse the state’s coffers with much-needed operating capital, especially on the heels of the economic downturn that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.   

Like California and the entire West Coast, Connecticut’s new law allows municipalities to ban cannabis businesses, basically opting out of the new legislation (a move that, often, is accomplished via modification of zoning ordinances).

But that’s not the biggest news.

More insight is gained from exactly how Connecticut (which features a population of 3.6 million and is only a quarter larger than Humboldt County, California) plans to regulate and restrict legal operators and their consumers in its adult-use cannabis market. Turns out that The Constitution State is proving to be quite progressive and perhaps, dare we say, innovative

Public Consumption Spaces

Pot Smokers at Seattle Hempfest

Connecticut has included a provision in its new adult-use cannabis law that requires municipalities in the state with populations in excess of 50,000 to create and maintain public consumption spaces. How exactly these spaces might manifest is currently pure speculation. 

Here’s the language of the bill: “If the municipality’s population is greater than fifty thousand, such regulations shall designate a place in the municipality in which public consumption of cannabis is permitted.”

Of equal significance are the areas and business types where cannabis consumption will not be tolerated. These include grocery and convenience stores, state parks, businesses holding liquor licenses, schools, child care facilities, dormitories (for both public and private institutions), dog race tracks, elevators, and restaurants (among others). 

Proving that reality sometimes matches the story telling mojo of Hollywood, zones where cannabis smoking/vaping are prohibited in Connecticut also include “the bar area of a bowling establishment.” Despite the fact that eager cannabis consumers won’t be permitted to share joints of Purple Urkle at the bowling alley bar, this language implies that willing owners/managers may legally permit pot smoking in other areas of their bowling alleys. (Is a weed-drenched East Coast reboot of 1998’s The Big Lebowski on the way?)    

For those keeping score, infractions of this smoking restriction clause of the law will involve a $250 fine.

The logic behind the rules is clear (and reasonable): Connecticut is attempting to prevent public spaces, even those that are privately owned but accessed by the public, from becoming cough-inducing smoke dens that would necessarily offend 1) those who abstain from smoking anything, 2) those who dislike the aroma of smoked cannabis, and 3) people who abhor second-hand smoke from any burned substance (a significant portion of the population). 

Social Equity Focus

Social equity and fair access have been core issues of the emerging legal cannabis industry for many years. However, states such as California and others have met a variety of impediments in this area, including infighting and bureaucratic red tape. This has prevented many governments from implementing or maintaining effective social equity programs.  

The new Connecticut law sets aside an industry-leading 50 percent of licenses for equity applicants. In addition, up to 75 percent of tax revenue collected from the legal sale of adult-use cannabis will be directed toward “equity efforts and community reinvestment.” 

Motels & Hotels

Equally progressive is Connecticut’s requirement that all motels and hotels must allow their guests to consume cannabis within the privacy of their rooms (although consumption in public areas of these facilities will remain prohibited). While a seeming victory for cannabis legalization advocates and traveling potheads, the details of this provision reveal some significant limitations. 

Sec. 89 of the law states that “No hotel, motel, or similar lodging shall prohibit the legal possession or consumption of cannabis in any nonpublic area of such hotel, motel, or similar lodging.” 

However, before doing a happy dance, readers should note that the state severely limits the number of rooms in a facility that may allow the smoking and vaping of cannabis. “The operator of a hotel, motel, or similar lodging may allow guests to smoke [or vape] in not more than twenty-five percent of the rooms,” reads the new state law.

This quirky policy, which on the surface makes little sense, may be a message from the state’s lawmakers that they wish to in the future craft legislation specific to cannabis tourism and hospitality. Many experts within the nascent cannabis industry have predicted significant market potential from tourism that caters specifically to cannabis consumers. Perhaps this provision within the new law is the state’s way of putting its foot in the proverbial door of future tourism tax revenue and overall economic benefits.   

Tenant Rights

Demonstrating that it can out-progress fellow adult-use state California and most of Canada, Connecticut’s new marijuana law prevents landlords from discriminating against applicants or current tenants based on prior cannabis convictions. Likewise, landlords and property management companies are also prohibited from drug testing tenant applicants. 

The language of the law: “Except as provided in this section, a landlord or property manager may not refuse to rent to a prospective tenant or an existing tenant, or otherwise discriminate against a prospective tenant or an existing tenant, based on a past conviction for possession of a cannabis-type substance.”


While Sec. 90 (b) of the law, which goes into effect July 1, 2022, prevents landlords from prohibiting the possession or consumption of cannabis, they can say no to the smoking or vaping of the herb within their building or on their grounds. This obviously limits tenants to consumption avenues such as edibles and sublingual tinctures while at home. 

Conviction Expungement

Many adult-use legal cities and states have implemented prior cannabis conviction record expungement, either integrated into their legalization at launch or added as amendments or separate bills after the fact.  

The new Connecticut pot law automatically clears cannabis convictions involving four ounces or less of cannabis, beginning January 1, 2023, for those who were charged between January 1, 2000 and September 30, 2015. Those charged before January 1, 2000 or from October 1, 2015 through June 30, 2021 may, beginning June 1, 2022, petition the court for expungement. Those convicted of cannabis amounts exceeding four ounces will be ineligible for such expungement. 

Connecticut joins adult-use states Arizona, Michigan, Montana, New York, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia, which have also automatically cleared some of their marijuana conviction records (but in many cases, similar to Connecticut, have limited their remediation to relatively minor offences).

Odor No Longer Probable Cause

Another progressive aspect of the new legislation is its stance on probable cause for police and other authorities when it comes to searches of people and vehicles. Connecticut joins states such as Arizona, Massachusetts, and Vermont that have also removed the odor of marijuana from what may be considered good and just reason for authorities to inspect a person or their car. 

The language of the law: “Any of the following circumstances shall not constitute in part or in whole probable cause or reasonable suspicion and shall not be used as a basis to support any stop or search of a person or motor vehicle: (1) The odor of cannabis or burnt cannabis.”

Private Consumption Protections

Connecticut’s SB 1201 also protects employees from discrimination by employers, but these rights aren’t unlimited.  

“No employer shall discharge from employment or take any adverse action against any employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or other privileges of employment because such employee does or does not smoke, vape, aerosolize, or otherwise use cannabis products outside of the workplace.”

Under the law, employers understandably retain the right to prohibit possession and consumption of cannabis at the workplace (and may legally discipline staff members who violate such policies by consuming at work). Conversely, those hyper-progressive employers that wish to allow their employees to blast bong bowls of Bruce Banner at work are allowed to legally do so (as long as they don’t violate any other provisions of the new law in the process).    

Home Grow Provision

Despite the wave of adult-use cannabis legalization sweeping North America, many state laws prohibit personal cultivation (sometimes called “home grow”). The Connecticut law, a pleasant exception, allows adults to grow up to six plants, but they’ll have to wait until July 1, 2023 to begin doing so legally.  

Grow limits apply to not only individuals, but also households, which can “grow no more than 12 cannabis plants at any given time.” All cultivation must be restricted to “personal use” and all plants must be “secure from access by any individual other than the consumer.” The details of how citizens must secure their plants or otherwise comply with the law are currently not defined, but will be included in the forthcoming regulations. 

Consumption Lounge Possibility

While Connecticut has not included a provision that would allow cannabis consumption lounges to legally operate in the state with the implementation of SB 1201, it has opened the door to their inclusion in a potential revision to the law in a couple of years.

The state has committed to, no later than January 1, 2023, “make written recommendations concerning whether to authorize on-site consumption or events that allow for cannabis usage, including whether to establish a cannabis on-site consumption or event license.”

That’s a Wrap

The excitement surrounding the June 2021 entry of Connecticut to the ever-growing throng of adult-use legal states in the U.S. is only increased by some of its relatively progressive provisions. These include tenant protections, real social equity, and possession limits that favor consumers more than many other state laws.

Public consumption spaces, tenant rights, a provision for personal cultivation, automatic (and petitioned) conviction expungement, and relatively liberal possession limits set a positive example for states that legalize in the future. SB 1201 is an arguably above-average start to Connecticut’s coming legal adult-use cannabis market.

WATCH Curt’s Cannabis Corner The Podcast on Marijuana Channel One:

Two Views Of Personal Cultivation Of Cannabis: NORML Vs. LCB

By Bailey Hirschburg

The following is one section of a report presented by Washington NORML to the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) regarding their study of regulatory options for home growing. WA NORML’s full report, “Personal Cultivation of Cannabis: A look at policy alternatives” can be found here: (MJNN link to .pdf file “WA NORML Home Grow Report1”)

As written, none of the LCB options were practical or addressed the issue. Option 1, which requires a permit and plants to be in a state traceability system, with greater authority shared between the LCB and local authorities, and option 3, status quo home grow prohibition, are discussed further in the report.

This excerpt focuses on the questions the LCB encourages the public to address, option 2 “State Framework, local authority” and WA NORML’s revised “Civil Liberties Option, with State Framework & Local Authority.”

The LCB is taking public comment on three regulatory options, found here. Email your comments to rules@lcb.wa.govby October 11th to see they’re included in the study’s public response.


What cultivation policy is best for our state? On Sept. 13th, the LCB released a request for stakeholder input on three draft options for personal cultivation along with specific questions on a “Stakeholder Outreach Questionnaire.” Those questions were:

1. Which of the above options best protects the state under the Cole Memo from intervention by the federal government?

2. What resource impacts (work hours, costs, etc.), positive or negative, do you foresee for the regulatory options listed above?

3. What are the challenges or benefits (or both) associated with each of the regulatory options listed above?

4. Please provide any additional feedback you believe would be helpful to consider as part of this study.

This paper itself broadly addresses question #4. “Constitutional Concerns & The Cole Memo” addressed Question #1 specifically.  What follows are the three LCB options with answers to stakeholder questions #2 and #3, a revised Option 2, and evaluation of recent legislative bills on the issue.

2. State Framework, Local Authority

• Allow recreational home grows under a regulatory framework based on statewide standards set in statute, but authorized, controlled, and enforced by local jurisdictions (counties, cities).

• Include statutory requirements for security, preventing youth access, preventing diversion, etc. (Cole Memo).

• Require a permit to possess plants. Absent a permit, growing marijuana for any purpose is illegal.

• Limit of no more than 4 plants per household.

• Include a statutory provision to allow recreational growers to acquire plants from licensed producers so long as the person possesses a valid permit.

• Include a statutory provision that allows law enforcement to seize and destroy all plants possessed by a person if the person has more plants than the law allows.

• Include the same restrictions that apply to medical marijuana patients on processing marijuana in recreational home grows (no extraction with combustible materials. See WAC 314-55-430).

• The Legislature may choose to allow local jurisdictions to “opt-in” for or “opt-out” of allowing recreational home grows, similar to the approach the Legislature took with marijuana licenses and registered medical marijuana patient cooperative grows.

2. What resource impacts (work hours, costs, etc.), positive or negative, do you foresee for the regulatory options listed above? By losing individual plant tracking and deferring to local authorities while giving them a clear “opt in/out” option the state shifts some costs (except for permitting) from option 1 somewhat or largely over to local authorities.

3. What are the challenges or benefits (or both) associated with each of the regulatory options listed above? This gives local governments too much control over residents’ private affairs. Similar to the challenges to option 1: fair enforcement, securing citizen information, legal challenges against a commercial regulator doing residential policing or civil suits on biased, aggressive, or improper enforcement. Like Option 1, this regulates recreational grows more strictly than medical grows. This option is also susceptible to claims that it unjustly limits civil liberties by allowing jurisdictions to opt in or out of honoring them.

Revised Option 2. Civil Liberties Option, with State Framework & Local Authority

• Allow recreational home grows with restrictions based on statewide standards set in statute, but controlled and enforced by local jurisdictions (counties, cities).

• Limit of no more than 15 plants per household.

• Maintain existing statutory requirements and penalties for public use, youth access, unlicensed sales, preventing diversion, etc.

• Include a statutory provision to allow recreational growers to acquire plants from licensed producers, and allowing accredited testing laboratories to contract with adults over 21 directly to have recreational home grow samples tested.

• Include a statutory provision that allows law enforcement to seize and destroy any plants possessed by a person beyond established limits.

• Include the same restrictions that apply to medical marijuana patients on processing marijuana in recreational home grows (no extraction with combustible materials. See WAC 314-55-430). Clearly establish that authorized and registered medical marijuana patient grows and registered cooperative medical marijuana grows are separate from any recreational home grow limits.

• The Legislature may choose to allow local jurisdictions to “opt-in” for or “opt-out” of allowing outdoor home grows plainly visible from public or federal properties.

2. What resource impacts (work hours, costs, etc.), positive or negative, do you foresee for the regulatory options listed above? Significantly less costs than any LCB option. Minor retraining for producers or retailers selling seeds/clones. Updated rules for law enforcement, traceability system requirements, and regular zoning issues for local jurisdictions. Eventual savings or revenue from seed/clone sales, ancillary products/services, and increasing effectiveness of eradication efforts.

3. What are the challenges or benefits (or both) associated with each of the regulatory options listed above? Increased tracking of sales and distribution to estimate home grow markets. Distinguishing between medical and recreational gardens. Outdoor zoning may impact property values based on preferred outdoor growing options. More testing of home grown samples, and judicious use of enforcement by not expecting a single extra plant to warrant removal of a person’s entire garden. This regulates recreational growing on a similar scale to medical growing.

Personal Cultivation Of Cannabis: Constitutional Concerns And The Cole Memo

By Bailey Hirschburg

The following is one section of a report presented by Washington NORML to the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) regarding their study of regulatory options for home growing. WA NORML’s full report, “Personal Cultivation of Cannabis: A look at policy alternatives” can be found here:

The study was mandated by recently by law (SB5131), and directs a “study of regulatory options for the legalization of marijuana plant possession and cultivation” by the LCB, directing the use of guidelines from a 2013 Department of Justice memorandum outlining federal expectations of state-legal marijuana policies as a guide. Written by then-deputy Attorney General James Cole, this document is widely referred to as the “Cole Memo.”

The LCB is taking public comment on their regulatory options, found here . Email your comments to rules@lcb.wa.govby October 11th to see they’re included in the study’s public response.


When Washington legalized adult possession in 2012 through I-502, only the state of Alaska had any decriminalization of personal cultivation. Today, seven states have as well as the District of Columbia have legalized not just possession and use, but some form of cultivation. All are been treated as complying with the Cole Memo, meaning a compliant policy is not only feasible, but common.

Many of the Cole Memo’s priorities are sensible and existed in the intent and language of Washington’s legalization initiative before the memo was issued, including prohibiting access to minors, stringently regulating impaired driving, and studying legalization’s social impacts. However, basing state law on this document over other arguments is untenable. It clearly reads: “This memorandum is not intended, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any matter civil or criminal.” The Washington State Senate Committee Services’ published guide to legislators fails to directly address this statement in it’s summary of the Cole Memo. Combined with the abnormal size of SB5131, this means some lawmakers may not have been clear on the risks inherent in basing a study about rights on a non-binding opinion of commercial markets.

Furthermore, the memo offers a relevant example of where state enforcement typically supersedes federal action. “the Department of Justice has not historically devoted resources to prosecuting individuals whose conduct is limited to possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property. Instead, the Department has left such lower-level or localized activity to state and local authorities and has stepped in to enforce the CSA only when the use, possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana has threatened to cause one of the harms identified above.”

The Cole Memo aside, a simple argument for allowing home growing is found in Washington’s Constitution “No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.” Washington Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Charles W. Johnson noted “The broad language in article I, section 7 will always require that official interferences with the private affairs of residents are governed by precise and predetermined legal principles. But by allowing for disturbances made with the authority of law, the framers also allowed future generations to play a role in shaping their privacy rights, provided the relevant constitutional limitations are respected.”

This right to privacy is woven into our civic fabric, and fairly extends to a plant adults can and do possess in homes across the state. The scent or appearance of marijuana is no longer a crime, and the state lacks a compelling interest in policing small gardens. The cultivation and use of cannabis doesn’t damage or block another’s rights. The state can only continue this practice with a clear explanation of why constitutional law allows this authority.

The Cole Memo guidelines are largely sensible, and based on the priorities of I-502. Some sections discuss specific issues in depth, but most would not be impacted by legal home growing. As of September 2017, those guidelines are:

1. Preventing distribution to minors. (Included in I-502, see “Impact on Youth”)

2. Preventing the revenue from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels. (Included in I-502, see “Intent of I-502”)

3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to other states. (Not addressed in I-502. (Home growing poses minimal threat due to the costs in transporting and risks for arrest in distributing. Though law enforcement typically calculates seized marijuana value on final street price per individual sale, growers not distributing themselves often sell in less-profitable wholesale price. See “Academic Findings on Personal Cultivation”)

4. Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity. (Not addressed in I-502. Because the sight and smell of marijuana is no longer a crime, nor are cooperative or medical marijuana grows, this will be an issue of concern regardless of legalization of home grows. However, clear guidelines for police and the public assists in focusing investigatory resources on active threats to the guidelines. See “Marijuana Legalization and Nosy Neighbor States”)

5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. (Not addressed in I-502. If all adults can grow cannabis in private it will reduce the likelihood of violent crime in/around marijuana licensees or currently illegal personal cultivation sites.)

6. Preventing drugged driving and other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use. (Included in I-502 in the form of revenue directed to public education and research. Home grows offer a source of safe cannabis that doesn’t require driving after purchase of a seed/plant clone. Rates of impaired driving have never been examined based on a consumer’s sourcing of cannabis.)

7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands. (Included in I-502, Washington state continues to receive marijuana eradication funding from the DEA. By licensing production and processing Washington continues to focus on larger-scale, criminally organized public grows. Cultivating fewer than 20 plants on public lands is not common, but risk of arrest means those growing for themselves are motivated to do so away from their own property. See “Impact on Law Enforcement” & “Impact on Other Issues”)

8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property. (Included in I-502, as the initiative highlighted the difference between federal and state laws and created appropriate areas of possession and use it made the risk of possession or use on federal property less appealing. Home growing continues that trend.)

Finally, even with the best of intentions, legal challenges to a law based on a memorandum is potentially fatal to an entire law. It’s unclear if the state could even show the memo as evidential in court.

Four Things You Can Do To Help Legalize Home Growing In Washington

By Bailey Hirschburg, Legislative Associate, Washington NORML PAC

House Bill 1212, in the Washington state house, would legalize personal cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, keep as much as 24 harvested ounces in the home. It defelonizes sharing or gifting of marijuana up to one ounce, and allows patients/adults to have their harvested marijuana tested in professional laboratories. Despite a unanimous committee vote of “do pass” in the house, progress has stalled because of lack of a companion bill in the state senate.

With the help of grassroots activists, calls from constituents, and supporter engagement from emails, Washington’s state house is, for the moment, saturated. But the senate has had less marijuana legislation, and less engagement. Four things you can do to help:

image21.) Call the right Senators

Email is alright, but they get a lot. Calls get more notice. Start with your senator, find them here:

BONUS if your state senator is any of the following, if not, leave a message for them anyway.

State Senate Leadership

  • Majority Leader: Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-9th District, (360) 786-7620
  • Majority Caucus Chair: Sen. Randi Becker, R-2nd District, (360) 786-7602
  • Majority Floor Leader: Sen. Joe Fain, R-47th District, (360) 786-7692
  • Minority Leader: Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-34th District, (360) 786-7667
  • Minority Floor Leader: Sen. Marko Liias, D-21st District, (360) 786-7640
  • Minority Caucus Chair: Sen. John McCoy D-38th District, (360) 786-7674

 Commerce, Gaming & Sports Committee(Deals with marijuana legislation)

  • Committee Chairman: Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-6th District, (360) 786-7610
  • Vice Chairman: Sen. John Braun, R-20th District, (360) 786-7638
  • Ranking Minority Member: Sen. Karen Keiser, D-33rd District, (360) 786-7664

2.) Call Senator Ann Rivers, R-18th District, (360) 786-7634

Every lawmaker I’ve talked to says some version of “Any Senator can sponsor home grow, if you want it to pass, you need Senator Rivers.”  Rivers was at the center of the 2015 changes to the state’s medical marijuana laws, which were divisive then and haven’t gotten much better. She took a lot of flack for that law, but she’s still the senate republicans cannabis head honcho. If you want it to pass, you need Senator Rivers.

3.) Be nice to staff, and they’ll give your message extra volume

Whatever the senators politics, they believe in them enough to hustle. You’ll be speaking to them through their staff aide. This person is both busy, and has a better relationship with the senator than you. Be to the point, remind them what bill it is, and say thanks. The call doesn’t need to last long, someone else may be calling to support!

Please call your state senator first, and ask that they get back to you about sponsoring the senate companion to SHB1212. Then, let other senators you contact know you’ve already called as a constituent, and are calling them as a senate leader.

For the Commerce, Gaming, and Sports Committee members or Sen. Ann Rivers let them know you’re calling because of their leadership on marijuana issues.

4.) Make the right argument.

The common arguments in favor of SHB1212 have been its benefits to medical patients and the fact that other legal marijuana states have it. Those are good points, but there’s another argument few people make. From Washington’s State Constitution:

“SECTION 7 INVASION OF PRIVATE AFFAIRS OR HOME PROHIBITED. No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.”

The state constitution is what lawmakers swore to uphold. Maybe Washington used to have a legitimate interest in busting people for a few plants. But in 2017, if you’re not dealing, trafficking, driving, or endangering kids, then it’s not the state’s business if you want to grow your own.

Call the right senators, stay courteous with staff, and argue the constitution. A few steps can make all the difference in legalizing home growing this year.

Grow-less In Seattle: A Tale Of Two Home Growing Bills

By Bailey Hirschburg

WASHINGTON: If you’ve been following legalization in Washington,  you probably know that we’re the only one of the eight legal states (plus the District of Columbia) that does not allow adults to grow their own cannabis at home.

Initiative 502’s authors decided to drop home grow, in an effort to broaden its appeal. Washington’s initiative passed in 2012 with 56% of the vote — the same as Colorado whose law includes personal cultivation — a missed opportunity.

In the years that followed, political action in Olympia focused first on setting up the first crop of licensed growers, processors, and retailers. Then, legislators turned their attention to reforming the state’s medical marijuana laws, eliminating largely unregulated collectives in favor of registered co-ops, and offering the largest cannabis gardens and biggest retail discounts to patients registered with Washington’s Department of Health.

Nearly four and a half years after Washington picked a new approach to personal cannabis use,  we’re only now talking about personal cultivation and so there was a lot of anticipation coming into the Commerce and Gaming Committee’s hearings on house bills 1092 and 1212 last Monday. The two home grow bills are basically the same, both legalizing cultivation for adults 21 and older. HB1092, sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-23rd), has been discussed and promoted more in the greener corners of the internet.

Appleton has been supportive of cannabis reform for several years, and is known as a genuine ally. Her bill is short and straightforward, and allows houses with more than one person over 21 to have up to 12 plants while retaining up to 48 ounces of harvested cannabis. Based solely on plant count, its easy to call Appleton’s bill the best one.

But HB1212, sponsored by Rep. Brian Blake (D-19th), while allowing only 6 plants and 24 ounces per house, has some benefits Appleton’s bill lacks. First, it legalizes sharing and gifting of cannabis between adults, a little-enforced, but still felony offense in the state. Blake’s bill would also allow adults, patients, and caregivers to contract with laboratories directly to have their cannabis plants scientifically tested for potency and contaminants. Both sharing and individual testing would benefit patients and recreational growers.

HB1212 also restructures possession offenses for cannabis generally, possession of more than six plants but less than 18 would be a civil infraction for every excess plant. Over 18 plants is a misdemeanor, and 40 or more is a felony.

Rep. Blake’s legislation has two more benefits, first, Blake sits on the Commerce and Gaming Committee, well positioned to push for its passage. The second is more speculative, but when there are two bills dealing with cannabis, I’ve found he conservatively worded is more likely to gain support.

At Monday’s hearing many of those speaking in support were patients and their families. Also present were cannabis licensees and industry representatives. Those speaking in opposition were Rick Garza from Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board and Seth Dawson representing Washington Association for Substance Abuse Prevention.

As a lobbyist for Washington NORML PAC, I was the only person to testify as a recreational consumer and prospective grower. My argument was similar to those made by others: the rest of the legal states already allow for home grow; it keeps police resources focused on large scale trafficking and violent crime; and most of us won’t be Cannabis Cup level master growers.

But I made one more argument that no one else did. Section 7 of our state constitution reads “No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.” Maybe the state once had a valid interest in violating homes for a plant, I said, but not when voters rejected prohibition. You don’t have to like cannabis to agree that our constitution thinks the homes and affairs of its citizens should be sacred.

Following the hearing several committee members said they were interested in passing one of the bills, a republican member said he was more likely to support 1212 than 1092. If the majority of the committee votes “Do Pass” on either bill it will advance to another committee, eventually having to pass the house, and do the whole process again in the state senate.

No state has legalized personal cultivation outside of the ballot box, so just making the case to one committee in one chamber of the legislature brings Washington one step closer to making cannabis history.

Watch the hearing on TVW:

Contact members of the Commerce and Gaming Committee here and urge passage of either HB1092 or HB1212.



How Many Legal Marijuana States Are There, Really? Radical Russ Shows Us

We like to keep count in the cannabis community.  We like to gather in groups and exchange the latest market statistics, popular opinion poll or ballot results.  One of the most basic statistics is legality, so you’d think we had a handle on that one.  Just how many “legal marijuana states” are there? As Bill Clinton would tell you, that’s a bit hard to say and depends on how you define “legal” and “marijuana” and, for that matter “state.”

Popular activist and cannabis media personality “Radical” Russ Belville published a great infographic that illustrates just how fragmented our cannabis laws are. Interestingly enough, Radical Russ doesn’t classify Washington, with its hundreds of pot shops and close to 1,000 legal cannabis producers and processors as fully legal, because home grow is not legal in the Evergreen State.


Radical Russ' Infographic Tells The Tale

Radical Russ’ Infographic Tells The Tale


D.C. State Fair Features Marijuana Growing Contest

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: For the first time, the D.C. State Fair included a marijuana growing contest.

Participants in the pot-growing contest were judged on appearance, odor and touch, including whether the stem is sticky and whether it bends or snaps.

Possession of small amounts of marijuana was legalized in the District earlier this year. People are permitted to grow their own plants at home.

The D.C. State Fair is meant to showcase the culinary, artistic and agricultural talents of the District.

The Opening Bell Sounds For The Oregon Marijuana Market

By Tony Gallo

OREGON:  On July 1, Oregon became the fourth state to legalize marijuana use, enabling adults to legally possess and grow limited amounts of cannabis for personal use. (Recreational sales begin October 1.) With the legalization, and even before, the industry in Oregon was ramping up to grow, and in the spirit of Oregonians, help each other out.

Case in point is the Cannabis Creative Conference (CCC) which I had the privilege of attending. The  two-day conference, July 29-30,  was sponsored by CannaGuard Security, Chalice Farms and Elevate/Green America and held at the Portland Expo. It was formulated to be ‘from the industry, for the industry” and was developed by Bella Vista Events in collaboration with cannabis industry businesses. The conference was created to share strategies and cultivate important conversations around rules and regulations, marketing and financial strategies, and education.

The kick-off investor summit on July 28 was hosted by MJIC. Speaker Lori Glauser, Director, President and COO of Signal Bay Inc. said she was really pleased at how it all came together so quickly. “It was a terrific audience, terrific speakers. It was a great event and I look forward to more events just like it.”

Day one had a keynote by Steven Marks, Executive Director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association Co-founder and Executive Director. Noah Stokes of CannaGuard Security was Master of Ceremonies. Panels throughout the day included compliance, tips for building an MJ facility and lessons learned, building strategic partnerships and legalities to consider.

July 30 saw a keynote session of Industry Leaders sharing views of the industry’s future. Amy Margolis, Emerge Law Group, Attorney & Shareholder said, “This is really about people educating themselves, then filtering their information through professionals and creating unified talking points that move legalization forward on a local level. The biggest mistake we can make at this point is lack of professionalism and a scattershot approach to implementation,” driving home awareness of what’s really coming. Afternoon panels covered raising capital, cannabis technologies, real estate acquisition, risk mitigation, banking, payment processing and cash management.

The Cannabis Creative Conference was new and different and the estimated attendance was twice what was expected. As Leafly commented, “It was good for us because we did want to reach out and have a variety of people attend…we’ve done a couple of these (events) and sometimes they’re less well attended. I really don’t have enough positive things to say about it.“

The trade show hosted about 70 booths and 15 seminars daily and I was pleased to see cannabis industry leaders such as Rolland Safe, MJBA and RMMC Consulting at the conference supporting the Oregon cannabis business owners.

I also liked that all the presentations were recorded for those who couldn’t attend the conference. In the last few years, I have attended more than a dozen or so cannabis events across the USA and I would rate this one in my top 5 conferences.

Good job and I look forward to this format being used at other cannabis conferences.

Tony Gallo is the Senior Director of Sapphire Protection ( with over 30 years in the Loss Prevention, Audit, Safety, and Risk/Emergency Management fields. Tony has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from New Jersey City University and is a member of Americans for Safe Access and the National Cannabis Industry Association.  Tony is considered one of the leading authorities in cannabis and financial loan service security and safety. Contact Tony at and follow him on Twitter at @SapphireProtect.

Hundreds Celebrate Marijuana’s New Legal Status In Oregon

OREGON: The smoke rose in bursts from the crowd and mingled in a hazy cloud. Those who weren’t too busy inhaling cheered when midnight struck.

It was July 1 and recreational marijuana had just become legal in Oregon.

“This is history in the making,” said Leeyah Pham of Portland as her friends took turns at a marijuana pipe.

Hundreds of people took over the Burnside Bridge’s north sidewalk Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, spilling into the roadway and blocking multiple lanes at various points throughout the night. It was loud and energetic, with activists stirring up the crowd with megaphone-powered chants like “Free the weed” and “F**k the DEA,” people openly smoking marijuana and equally openly sharing it.

Oregon: Midnight Tonight — Law Takes Effect Permitting Adults To Consume Cannabis

OREGON: Legislation takes effect at midnight tonight permitting adults to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use.

Fifty-six percent of state voters approved Measure 91 in November, which allows those over the age of 21 to legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis and/or to engage in the non-commercial cultivation of up to four marijuana plants (yielding up to eight ounces of marijuana). The law also permits adults to possess up to a pound of cannabis-infused edibles, 72 ounces of cannabis-infused liquids, and/or one ounce of marijuana concentrates.

Separate regulations allowing for the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis have yet to be finalized by lawmakers. Legislation is under consideration to permit adults to temporarily purchase cannabis from state-licensed medical dispensaries as soon as the fall.

State-licensed retailers are not anticipated to be operational until mid-to-late 2016.